Breakfast Bites: Mozzarella Meatball Frittata

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

Another weekend down and another snowstorm to emerge from (relatively) unscathed. Here in New England we got a one-two punch- an overnight storm on Friday/Saturday and another one last night into this morning, Spring may be on the way- but Winter is not going to go down without a fight!

With all the snow, ice, and bitterly cold temperatures- I wanted to cook up something this past weekend that would warm me up from the inside out and keep me fueled for all the shoveling and for getting through my plans that were unfortunately pushed together and sort of rushed with all the weather delays (including helping one of my best friends move to her new house and unpack, stopping in Northampton for theater-related work, and squeezing in some pampering for myself!)

I love a good egg recipe- and frittatas are one of my favorites. This one in particular, which incorporates meatballs and a couple different kinds of cheeses- takes about 20 minutes total to prep and cook- making it perfect for those of you on the go who want a tasty, hassle-free breakfast or brunch dish to serve!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons slivered basil leaves
  • ½ pound meatballs (cut in half if more than 1 inch in diameter)
  • 4 ounces mozzarella, preferably fresh, cut into ½-inch chunks

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large ovenproof and preferably nonstick skillet, heat ½ tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the tomato juices are viscous and glossy, about 2 minutes. Pour the tomatoes onto a plate and use a silicone spatula to scrape any sticky tomato juices onto the plate as well.
  3. Whisk the eggs until well blended, then mix in the Parmesan and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat the remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Place the meatballs in the pan, cut sides down if they have been halved. Evenly sprinkle in the tomatoes. Pour in the egg mixture, using a fork to evenly redistribute the tomatoes or basil if necessary. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly across the top. Cook until the edge of the frittata starts to set, then use a silicone spatula to pull the cooked egg away from the side of the pan a bit, letting the raw egg flow behind it. Repeat a few times and cook until the eggs are almost set around the perimeter of the pan, about 5 minutes.
  5. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the eggs are just set in the center and the top is dappled with toasty brown patches, about 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 1 minute to help set the top and to foster bubbly, toasted cheese bites.
  6. Remove the skillet from the oven. The frittata is easiest to remove from the pan after resting for 5 minutes. Slide the spatula underneath to loosen, then cover the skillet with a large plate or pizza pan and invert the frittata onto it. Flip the frittata one more time onto a serving plate or cutting board so it is right side up.

You know a recipe is good when my brother- a somewhat picky eater who happened to stop by shortly after I’d prepared this- really liked it! It’s filling and loaded with so many delicious flavors (the tomato and garlic stand out to me the most) that work wonderfully together.

Next time I prepare this, I think I may incorporate some red pepper and maybe some onion, as well- just to add more vegetables to the mix!

And now, with a new week just starting- I’m off to shovel, try to get some work done at my office, probably shovel some more- and then curl up with a hot cup of tea and a good book a little later on tonight!

Stay warm out there, everyone- and enjoy your Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Cozy Cooking: Smoked Gouda Potato Pancakes

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to another weekend- and considering I almost *didn’t* make it to the weekend- I’m very grateful.

Last night, while en route to visit a friend for a pre-birthday dinner celebration since I won’t see them on my actual birthday- I was hit from behind by a woman speeding on the highway who failed to slow down for the line of traffic I had been stopped and waiting in. The collision caused some serious damage to the back of my car, and unbeknownst to me until later on when I attempted to get myself and my vehicle home safely- some even worse damage to my tires.

What made it worse was that when I went to pull over to exchange information and see if she was okay- she went around me and took off. The impact had caused my stuff to go flying around the inside of my car- so I didn’t get a photo of her car, her license plate, etc. It was a hit and run- and now I’m dealing with the fallout, the appraisal process, and a very sore back. I hope wherever she is- she steps on a Lego block.

I digress. I’m thankful it wasn’t worse- and even though I’m in some pain right now- I’m especially thankful it seems to be a superficial injury.

___________________________

We’re expecting a significant amount of snowfall here in New England this coming weekend, which means a couple of things- the supermarkets are going to be like something out a post-apocalyptic horror movie with people fighting for the last of the bread and milk (it’s a Northeast thing) and I am more than likely going to be spending a considerable amount of time indoors while the roads are cleared.

I’ve already done my grocery shopping for the next couple of weeks- so I’m ready for anything- and I know of at least one Winter-friendly, warming dish I can whip up if I don’t lose power! These Gouda-loaded potato pancakes are crispy, cheesy, super filling- and can make even the coldest climate feel a little more cozy and comfortable.

Best of all? They’re super easy and fast to make! I did a trial run of these earlier this week- and they came out fantastic!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 lbs. russet potato, peeled
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¾ cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Grapeseed oil, as needed
  • Sour cream
  • Sliced green onions

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Coarsely shred the potato and onion on a box grater. Transfer shreds to a piece of cheese cloth and squeeze as dry as possible. Let sit for 2 minutes and then squeeze dry again.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt and pepper. Toss the potatoes, onions, and cheese in the flour to coat and then the lightly beaten egg and stir until evenly coated.
  3. In a large skillet, heat up a generous amount of oil over medium heat until hot and shimmery. Drop the potato mixture by the tablespoon and flatten.
  4. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until edges are crisp and golden, about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Drain on a wire rack or paper towels.
  5. Continue pancaking until potato mixture is done. Top pancakes with sour cream, green onions, and more shredded Gouda, if desired.

I could eat these pancakes every day for the rest of my life and never get sick of them. They’re like thicker, cheesier hash browns and are perfect for breakfast, lunch- or dinner!

Prior to the snowfall, I’ll be finishing up some things/loose ends in regards to my car accident and icing/applying a heating pad to my back to alleviate my pain. This coming Tuesday is my birthday- and depending on the weather and if I have a car or not- we’ll see what ends up happening for a celebration!

I hope you all have a wonderful, warm and safe weekend. If you’re from my neck of the woods- be careful driving and shoveling!

See you all next week!

xx

– Ashley –

Breakfast Bites: Freezable Croissant Breakfast Sandwiches

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

The week ahead is an exceptionally busy one (and a great way to dive into the New Year, really!) I’ve got work, meetings, appointments, events, my best friend’s birthday- and I still managed to pencil in a little self-care and pampering right before the weekend- so I’m firing on all cylinders right now!

In order to make sure I’m not crashing by noon and keep on maintaining my current level of focus and efficiency- I prepared a delicious, filling breakfast for nearly every morning this week- a meal that can be safely stored in the freezer and reheated whenever I’m ready to get my daily grind started the right way!

Instead of relying on lukewarm drive-thru breakfast sandwiches that are made with questionable meat product and artificial eggs- here’s how to make the real deal with real ingredients at home- and how to keep them fresh in the freezer.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup Half & Half Creamer
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 croissants, halved horizontally
  • Thinly sliced ham (check your local deli!)
  • Sliced cheddar cheese, halved

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add eggs to the skillet and cook, whisking, until they just begin to set. Gently whisk in half and half; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Continue cooking until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains, about 3-5 minutes; set aside.
  2. Fill croissants with eggs, ham and cheese to make 4 sandwiches. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer.
  3. To reheat, remove plastic wrap from the frozen sandwich and wrap in a paper towel. Place into microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through completely.
  4. Serve immediately and enjoy a savory breakfast to start your day!

I can’t stress how filling and tasty these sandwiches are- and paired with a hot cup of coffee- they’re exactly what I need to keep me fueled when I’m heading into work first thing in the morning and getting down to business like the no-nonsense boss I am.

You can mix and match ingredients with these sandwiches, too- of course- by substituting the ham with bacon (including turkey bacon), sausage, vegetables, etc. As long as they’re sealed properly and frozen- you’re good to go!

And now that I’ve shared my early A.M. hack- I’m off to get started on my work for the day and prepare for appointments I’ve got lined up this evening. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Monday- and a lovely and stress-free start to the week ahead!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Maple Candied Bacon

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

Every once in a while, when my schedule is particularly packed and I’m busier than usual- I like to simplify things so I don’t get overwhelmed. So, when it came time to whip something up for a pre-bachelorette-party-brunch this past Saturday- I opted to keep things super quick and easy- while still maintaining fun, seasonal flavors that everyone would enjoy.

You won’t find many people who will disagree that bacon- which goes with any meal during the day- makes every dish better. But, to keep up with the Fall flare I try to showcase this time of year- I thought I’d incorporate a little maple and brown sugar to keep brunch as Autumnal as possible.

This dish calls for four ingredients and takes little to no time at all to prepare and cook. Seriously- how much better can that get?

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • Coarsely ground black pepper

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with a roasting rack. Lightly spritz the rack with nonstick spray. Lay the bacon on the rack, leaving just a tiny bit of room between each piece.
  2. Brush the bacon with the maple syrup and then sprinkle with the brown sugar. Top with a generous sprinkling of pepper.
  3. Bake until the sugar is melted and the bacon is crisp, 15 to 17 minutes (or a little longer if you like it extra crispy). Let the bacon cool for 5 minutes before removing it from the rack and serving.

I love maple-flavored anything, so I drizzled a bit more syrup on top of the bacon when it was finished cooking and added a dash more pepper- and it tasted fantastic! It went fast, in-between mimosas and Bloody Mary’s- so I know I can make it again the next time my friends and I all get together and there won’t be any complaints.

I’ll be re-capping my weekend and all the craziness that came with it a little later on this week- and I’ve also got some more Halloween-appropriate pieces from my wardrobe to share before I head off to Vermont this coming weekend- but I’ve got to get some work done at the office, first!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Monday and a stress-free start to your week!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: June 2018!

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

I’ve never been more relieved that the weekend is here than I am right now. What a whirlwind week it’s been- and it’s going to be so nice to just relax after work today, enjoy a home cooked meal with my family at my mom’s house- and then partake in some pampering and time with friends…

… When I’m not getting my geek on at this weekend’s ComiCONN at Foxwoods on Saturday afternoon, of course!

But while my look back on this month that was will be up on the blog bright and early tomorrow morning before I hit the road to Connecticut- I wanted to share some of the things I’ve been wearing/using/eating/watching/listening to/and otherwise raving about all throughout June.

That’s right- it’s time for my monthly Favorites post!

As always, I’m going to start with the things I could photograph before jumping into the odds, ends, and miscellaneous things that made this past month extra special!

Kicking things off are these adorable, bright and Summery flower sandals I picked up from ModCloth earlier this month. Whenever I wear these, people always stop me to take a better look at them- particularly the huge pink flowers that sit on top of my toes with every step.

These are such fun and comfortable sandals to wear- and I’ve been sporting them at work, at the beach, on dates, and running errands. They’ve become my go-to shoe for the Summer!

And keeping up with my Summer fashion, I had posted earlier this week about one of my latest wardrobe obsessions in the form of comfortable and flattering one-piece bodysuits. I’ve been wearing them with shorts, jeans and skirts pretty much non-stop on the weekends because they’re so easy to dress up/down and are no fuss.

This mini-collection of some of my favorites, amassed during recent trips to Primark, are colorful (with the exception of the black and white one- which is a “dressier” one piece I wear to nighttime functions)– and are perfect for this most hot and humid of New England seasons!

Moving from fashion to beauty/cosmetics- I only had a couple of things that made the list this month (I don’t use a ton of makeup this time of year since it melts off my face in record time!) and both are great products that benefit skin and boost a healthy glow! The first, is this lightweight and non-greasy, oil-free moisturizer with SPF15 from OLAY, which I’ve been wearing under my BB cream.

Formulated for combination/oily skin (AKA- me), this lotion hydrates my skin and protects it from harmful UV rays rays without clogging my pores. It’s also loaded with skin conditioning vitamins, so my face actually feels nice while I’m wearing it.

And at night, I use this gentle facial roller (which I store in the refrigerator during the day to get it nice and cold) to boost circulation and collagen production after I’ve washed my face and applied my serums for the evening. 5-10 minutes of rolling this over my cheeks, down the bridge of my nose and my forehead makes a world of difference!

Best of all? You can find affordable rollers online. You don’t have to break the bank to get anything super fancy. This one was only $2!

Moving onto one food item I was obsessed with this past month, if loving a yogurt is wrong- I don’t want to be right. Yoplait’s new ‘Oui’ yogurts– which are more like a thick custard than a typical creamy texture- are SO good. I’ve been stocking up to eat these with breakfast every day because they’re so delicious and come in a ton of great flavors.

The ‘Oui’ yogurts are non-GMO and come in individual glass pots- which means you can recycle them or reuse them! I started washing mine out for when I bake bite-sized desserts, and others I’ve given to my friends’ kids so they can use them to plant seeds or for arts & crafts projects. It’s so much more rewarding than tossing endless plastic containers away!

And finally- I’m *so* over inflatable unicorn pool floats all over my Instagram feed. This year- I’m bringing you all the pizza slice float. Big enough to hold my grown up self without sinking me but small enough to not take up all the space in the pool- this was a purchase I’d made on a whim at the very beginning of the Summer and I haven’t regretted it one bit.

My friends are actually getting each of their own- and we’re looking into picking up some of these cheeseburger floats, too.

And I think that’s it for the more photogenic favorites for the month of June- but some other things made the list, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

Interpol – “The Rover”: Interpol are undoubtedly one of my favorite bands- and maybe the only band whose lyrics I’d ever consider getting tattooed on me at some point- so when I found out they were releasing a new album in August, entitled ‘Marauder’- I was more than excited. When I heard the first single from the album, “The Rover”- my spirit temporarily left my body because it’s SO good. I can’t stop listening to it.

August feels so far away now!

– GAMES/APPS –

Viridi – Sometimes things can get overwhelming at my job, and the idea of even glancing at social media (and all the craziness that can come with it) when I’m already stressing out and need a break is unheard of. When I can’t meditate or simply take off for weeks at a time on a whim- I turn to Viridi. This botany app, backed by soothing music and soft colors/scenery- lets you grow and tend to virtual plants. It might sound silly, sure- but it’s actually super relaxing and mellows me out when I’m having a rough day.

Also? I can’t grow anything to save my life- so to be able to not immediately kill my plants in a game is refreshing!

– MISCELLANEOUS –

Deus Ex Machina – Unfortunately, this immersive theater experience based out of the historical Shea Theater in Turners Falls ended this past weekend, but what an *amazing* show it was! Patrons are whisked away from room to room- sometimes separately and sometimes in pairs or groups- by actors (portraying 1920s era ghosts trapped in the theater) where so many different things are happening at once. There’s music, and dancing, and drinking- and I had the time of my life there.

Think NYC’s “Sleep No More”- but not obscenely expensive and you actually get to see great performances without being overcrowded! I can’t wait until it comes back. Truly.

One of my dearest friends was/is in the cast, and I owe him the biggest thanks for smuggling me in to see the show. I loved it oh so very much.

And I think that’s it for the month of June! And, as I’d mentioned earlier- before we jump into July this coming Sunday, my look back on this past month will be up tomorrow morning before I head out for the weekend! Keep an eye out (weekend posts are easy to miss, ‘ya know!)

Enjoy your Friday, everyone! We made it! Now it’s time to kick back and celebrate!

xx

– Ashley –